To put it quite simply, here are the ingredients responsible for what is looking like another record-breaking year in Hawaii tourism: increased airlift and enough luxury inventory to please affluent clients heading to any island in the Aloha State.
“There's been an influx of luxury hotels in Hawaii - [The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach], [The Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina], etc., so again, it's all going upscale,” Jack E. Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays, told us during a recent roundtable Travel Agent hosted in Mexico with some of the industry’s top tour operators. “And then ADR's (average daily rate) and rates continue to go up.”
In July of last year, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach opened its doors to a new wave of global travelers on the island of Oahu. Located in Waikiki, The Ritz-Carlton Residences are the latest addition to the Waikiki skyline, featuring resort-style experiences with ocean views from every residence.
Also, in June of last year, the Four Seasons resort on Oahu opened in the form of The Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. The resort has 358 guest rooms and suites, five restaurants and lounges, four pools plus white sand beaches, a multi-level spa and wellness center, tennis facilities and watersports, and preferred access to the Ko Olina Golf Club.
Construction of the residences started in summer 2013. All residences face the ocean, providing guests with great views of the Pacific, and include kitchens with premium appliances along with in-residence washers and dryers.
And the increase in luxury resorts usually equates to increased visitor spending.
According to numbers recently released by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), visitor spending and arrivals increased for all four larger Hawaiian Islands in April 2017 compared to the year prior.
“ADR's are up and from what we can see, we're seeing customers going to [Hawaii Island] and Kaui and a lot of it is because there's so much demand and inventory,” says Elizabeth Moriarty, vice president of product development for Delta Vacations. “And Hawaii has had, I think, five record breaking years.”
Moriarty also told us flight alternatives out of the West Coast has peaked interest from clients no previously interested in visiting the Hawaii Islands via Honolulu.
“There's a lot more service out of the West Coast going directly to the neighbor islands because customers don't necessarily want to fly via Honolulu,” she says.
Richards says the four popular islands of Hawaii - Maui, Hawaii Island, Kauai and Oahu- continue to dominate bookings to the Aloha State with Maui leading the pack by far.
“Between four islands - and Maui is dominating - everything else is secondary,” says Richards.
In fact, Richards says Hawaii continues to be the single largest destination for the company in terms of sales and passengers.
“There's relatively no push back on the rates at all," he told us. "We have adequate air seats from American [Airlines], Delta [Air Lines], Hawaiian [Airlines] and the [Alaskan Airlines/ Virgin America merger] has created a really interesting scenario for Alaska to enter the Los Angeles market for the first time to Maui and Honolulu, so it's all good.”